True Detectives: How Physical Therapists Use Clues and Leads to Crack the Case of Your Pain

If you’ve never experienced physical therapy before, you might not know how physical therapists figure out what’s causing your pain so they can create the best plan to address it.

Physical therapists are detectives of the body. They’re specialists in understanding our musculoskeletal system (i.e.: our muscles, joints and bones), and can pinpoint what may be causing you pain, discomfort and/or injury. Physical therapists focus on identifying and treating the causes of pain instead of masking them with pain medication.


So how do physical therapists solve the mystery? They first examine your medical history and search for any complications or personal factors that might provide a lead. When you first come into a PT clinic, you’ll likely sit down with a trained clinician who will listen to you to find out, in your own words, where the affected area is, how severe the pain is and what you think the cause may be.

Based on what you tell them about your pain, your PT will form a hypothesis on what they suspect is causing you pain and test it by completing a thorough evaluation. They’ll take measurements for range of motion, strength, flexibility, etc. and may complete a functional movement evaluation, which will assess how the injury/pain is affecting your movement.


After completing all of the tests, your physical therapist will narrow down on a diagnosis, taking into account your description and the physical evaluation. Once they’ve found the probable culprit, they’ll educate you about the results and work with you to set goals and create plan of action to decrease pain, improve mobility and address other functional limitations. Each case is different, so our PTs create an individual plan for every person that they evaluate.


Physical therapists are as thorough as possible when evaluating patient, spending a full hour with each person in order to get as many details as possible. This comprehensive approach and goal-oriented treatment is what makes PT so effective. Just like with a great detective, cases can only be solved if every potential lead is considered and each situation is treated as unique and worthy of attention. It may seem daunting at first, but physical therapists are masterminds at getting people back to doing what they love using their extensive knowledge and experience.

Wouldn’t it be great to prevent an injury before it even happens? What most people don’t know is that physical therapists don’t only treat pain, they can also help prevent it…almost like preventing a crime before it occurs! If you’re dealing with any nagging pain, immobility, recurring injury or aches that just won’t seem to go away, it can never hurt to reach out to a physical therapist to see how they can get you feeling better. It’s the perfect time of year, because if you’ve met your annual deductible, you might be able to take advantage of your health insurance and receive PT at little to no cost. With locations throughout Connecticut, PTSMC and our affiliate PT for Life are close by and here for you when you need us. Give us a call or contact us through our website and we’ll get you on the path to feeling your best!